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Strengthening the role of Academia in Healthcare policies

  May 13, 2014

Whenever the subject healthcare comes up, it is rare for academia or administration roles to come to mind. For a long time, it has always been assumed that the doctors have it all under control – after all, it is their job. The Kenyan Health Industry has not been spared of this general assumption either, that can be presented in the case of the proverbial ostrich that buries its head in the sand. The appointment of a banker in 2013 as the Cabinet Secretary for the Health Ministry acted as a wakeup call, citing the need of administrators who also double up as doctors. Medical training is just not enough to handle issues that crop up within the profession.

The question is what is the role of the academic organizations in support of the healthcare industry in Kenya? And do we have faculty that is relevant to the MOH (Ministry Of Health) available to come up and address the gap. A solution to the problem can be handled if adequate research is done in the area, not to mention close cooperation with academic institutions and other relevant organizations. It has therefore been noticed that both the private and public universities and organizations have liaised efficiently in order to lift the health industry in Kenya.

Division of labor has always been viewed as an effective method of accomplishing a task across the board. Using this strategy, a round table on policy and research training was conducted at the World Bank saw some of Kenya’s major universities come together to consolidate their thoughts and ideas so as to build solutions that would have a positive impact on implementation of some of the policies made in the Kenyan healthcare sector.

From a total of 14 groups, Strathmore Business School led the talk, which was chaired by Prof. David Peters of John Hopkins’ Bloomberg school of public health. Dr. Peters was invited by the World Bank, who also hosted the meeting

The round table session focused on how academic institutions can play key roles in research policy and training by addressing some of the key challenges that it faces. The session aimed to:

  • a) look for solutions on how to address key needs in Kenya through supporting county healthcare systems with the ability to plan, implement and monitor health programs.
  • b) seek a common vision on the role of academic organizations in supporting healthcare systems in Kenya through trainings and research and lastly develop relevant, effective and sustainable institutions that will be able to improve healthcare systems nationally and at a county level.
  • c) build capacity to facilitate the implementation of these healthcare policies.

  • SBS,as an institution that has specialized in the area of administration, ethics and management, offers an MBA course in healthcare management – the continent’s first MBA dedicated to healthcare managers. It also offers executive training in leadership for managers of leading health organisations in the country. SBS has also partnered with the University of Cape Town, Witwatersrand University and Lagos Business School to form the African Institute of Healthcare Management, which pools researchers and faculty in healthcare management across the continent.

    Other groups include in the round table session were University of Nairobi, Kenyatta University, Moi University, Afidep, MSH, APHRC, CNHR, KEMRI, HERAF and AMREF. Each of these groups are currently engaged in different projects that are working towards the realization of better healthcare services and sound health policy.

    The round table session was put in place to ensure that everyone understood what the other organization were doing in the field of health policy. The University of Nairobi ensured that it will to it that training is done in four areas, working with national and county level interactions. Aside from doing collaborative research, the school of economics is to link with MOH to advise the students on what to work on. They will also partner with SBS for leadership and management guidance. Effort to revamp the eLearning sector will be undertaken by KU, who are working on an MOU to assist the county government in developing PPS. The research sector lies solely to Afidit, who will link the research policy, in that they will produce research to be understood by policy makers. This is to assist the communication breakdown that has been a long time problem.

    This understanding between these organizations is to allow for more collaboration between the different institutions based on their own different strengths.

    Shocking statistics have reveal that 60% of healthcare managers are not trained. To revert this result, MSH will revise the curriculum to professionalize leadership and management in the ailing healthcare sector. In order for the best to be brought out the SBS LEHHO program will assist with training and facilities to ensure adequate quality. Trainees will be able to work in the areas where they want to and they have been specifically trained. AMREF will then go to the county level to work closely with governance and tackle any political issues.

    With such a great initiative from a group session coordinated by the center for innovation, research and advisory services in health (CIRAS-Health) along with the world bank is to ensure that different academic and related stakeholders in the country for health policy are brought together to change Kenya’s health sector. Some of the anticipated challenges are how to prioritize health projects by the Ministry of Health and sharing of information among healthcare sectors. This step in bringing together academia as support in healthcare policies is highly expected to be one of the game changers of the healthcare industry .

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